Respecting The Past, Looking To The Future: Bankstown Berries FC

In light of Football NSW’s Heritage Round, The Clean Sheet profiles one of the NPL’s most historic clubs, Bankstown Berries FC.

Heritage. What exactly is it? It could be defined as observing and respecting past cultures and preserving them for the future. Football in New South Wales is beaming with clubs that have a far more profound past that has contributed to the Australian footballing landscape. Just look at clubs like Sydney United 58 FC, APIA Leichardt and Wollongong Wolves FC (just to name a few) who over their long and decorated past have produced many national team players and heroes, and continue to be the future of Australia’s footballing talent. But among all the history contained the in the National Premier League (NPL) in New South Wales, one club has a special mark in the book of Australian football.

That club is Bankstown Berries FC.

Football has been played in the Canterbury Bankstown area of Sydney since the early years post World War II, with clubs formed in the area to accommodate the rise in the game. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when a split occurred from discontented members and fans of Sydney’s biggest Greek club Sydney Olympic FC. The first birthing of the club came in 1961 when the club (then known as Canterbury-Marrickville Olympic) was formed and took to the pitch in a then New South Wales Division, amassing 31 points in their debut season.

Not only was the club a representative of a growing love of the round ball game in Australia, it also was the breeding ground of some of the most famous players to ever wear the Green and Gold of the Socceroos. The likes of current Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold, former Western Sydney Wanderers FC goalkeeping coach Ron Corry and Charlie Yankos all played for the club at one point in their careers but perhaps the most famous of all these was Australian footballing legend, “Mr I Told You So,” the late Johnny Warren. Warren started his senior career at the club and eventually represented his country at the highest level, captaining the Socceroos in their debut at the 1974 FIFA World Cup in West Germany. He, alongside Johnny Watkiss, were two Socceroos who played at the Berries (as they are colloquially known) before representing Australia in 1974.

The club has undergone many name changes along the years, being known as West Sydney Berries FC from the mid 2000’s (which marked the first time in the club’s history the absence of the “Bankstown” reference in its name) to its current name of Bankstown Berries FC. Today, the club plays its home games at The Crest Reserve in Bass Hill in Sydney’s south-west and wears the colours of  yellow and blue, colours reflected in the club’s crest. Currently plying its trade in NPL Men’s 2 (the second tier of NSW football,) the ambitious club  are fighting for promotion along side other historic clubs like Marconi Stallions FC to reclaim its place in the upper echelons of football in NSW.

Even though the club hasn’t been where it wants to be, it has not neglected its roots and drive as three of their youth being selected in the NSW Combined Catholic Colleges Team who will now compete in the NSW team in the Pacific School Games.

For a club with such historic roots and importance to the development of the game, only time will tell how far reaching their impact will be on the future of this great game in this country.

(All images from Bankstown Berries NPL Instagram)
Facebook: Bankstown Berries NPL
Instagram: Bankstown Berries NPL

 

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